Pastor Ntombekhaya Nyama-Plati says the status of women’s participation in ministry is gradually increasing but there are still challenges ahead, as there are churches who still believe that women cannot lead.
She has therefore called on churches to affirm their commitment to gender representation and women in the ordained ministry.
Leading the Genesis Faith Mission in the troubled Marikana in Philippi East, Pastor Nyama-Plati believes women can – and should – challenge the existing patriarchal systems.
Talking to Vukani about the challenges faced by women priests, she said women had brought a much needed positive change in what was known as “the men’s world”.
“There are still men who undermine us. There those who still regard us as nothing but puppets forgetting that we are all made in the image of God.
“We are all called to serve the living God. They forget that He lives within us all. But I must say, we are making inroads. There is a slight change from all avenues, men and women,” she said.
She said what made her happy was that ordinary people were accepting them as priests and that communities were ready for women to take the lead in churches.
Pastor Nyama-Plati said it has not been easy to preach in a crime-riddled community like hers. One of the challenges she observed was the lack of skills, education and high levels of poverty.
“Most men priests left the area because of crime.
“They were not man enough to deal with challenges of the area.
“Remember if you work here you cannot expect tithes.
“People here have no jobs, there is a lack of skills and education. Instead you need to go deep into you pocket and help them. It is not easy to preach over a hungry head.”
And, she said: “It is an open secret that crime is a big challenge here,” she said.
Besides preaching, she runs a creche and soup kitchen for the people of Marikana.
She also leads a group of women who build homes for themselves through a stokvel called Masakhe Ladies.
She is not only advocating for gender equality but encourages women to fight injustices where they live.
“Let’s make an impact, a huge impact in our areas. We are not tails but heads of our households. We need to show the doubting Thomases that we can make a change too. Many homes are what they are today because of women. “In this Women’s Month, let us show that we are stronger and tougher,” she said.
She urged communities including faith-based groups to support and respect women and to remember that they are key to ending violence against women and children, ending poverty and fighting gender inequality and injustice.